A 4am start on Sunday 10th July, waiting for the minibus to take us to Liverpool airport. Everyone’s on top form and keen to get to Malta.
The queue at checking was mental with only 2 desks open for every Easyjet flight. After 2 hours in the queue passengers for Malta were called forward as it was getting late. We were almost at check in anyway but they opened the barrier and ushered us through before putting us at the BACK of ANOTHER QUEUE! Without going into details, the Easyjet staff were simply useless at check in.
Eventually checked in, we had to rush through security and straight onto the plane, only just in time thanks to the fiasco at check in. The flight was pretty good and it didn’t seem long before we looking at Gozo, Comino and then Malta as the plane descended before making a 180 left turn to line up on the Malta runway.
All the bags arrived and we met out minibus driver at arrivals. The first part of the trip was from the airport to a small port at the north end of Malta to catch the ferry over to Gozo. All our luggage was transferred to a trolley for the ferry ride and then to another minibus on arrival in Gozo where we were collected by Richie of Scuba Kings who we had booked this trip with.
Our apartments were just outside of Marselforn where Scuba Kings are based. The apartments were for 4 people each and fine for us, although not sure the wives and kids would have liked them had they come. We would be picked up each morning and taken into Marselforn for breakfast and then out in the transit to the boat or whatever sites we were diving on the day. We had a guide for the whole week, Mark, who was a really nice guy and we got to know him quite well over the week. It was quite hard work though as we were expected to load/offload the van and boats with tanks and all gear needed, not just our own. In the 35 plus degrees this was a bit of a drag at times and our only real complaint over the week.
Day 1 was on the hard boat visiting Comino Caves and the wreck of a patrol boat just off Comino. Seb, the skipper was good laugh and water and dinner were laid on as well. For some this was the first experience of diving outside the UK inland sites and had never dived from boats at all. They followed the lead of those who have done this diving before and were soon enjoying a fantastic dive at Comino Caves. Our second dive of the day was the patrol boat and the water here was noticeably cooler past 20m. The visibility was great though and again, another dive that we will all remember but especially the newer guys.
Day 2 started with breakfast followed by a trip to the Blue Hole and Inland Sea. Both these well known sites are next door to each other. There are some steps to help people get down and back up to the Blue Hole and the older members remembered when they came last, how you had to climb the rocks (and bring back a Hovis at the same time). Steps or not, it was hard work down and back up again and the heat was pretty relentless. We walked down to a cafe at the Inland Sea to get drinks and a bite to eat whilst dive guide Mark took the van back with the cylinders to get them filled.
The inland sea was another great dive. For me it was the light you saw at the end of the fissure in the rock that was just something else. As you pass into the open sea we took a left and followed a lovely wall that dropped off to 80 plus meters below us. It’s always good to keep an eye out to sea for Barracuda, Jacks and Grouper as well as on the wall for the smaller stuff and lovely soft corals. From around 30 meters we came up to around 18 for the swim back and returned into the fissure before exiting back where we started.
Day 3 was a second boat dive day. We wanted to do the Cathedral Cave but didn’t fancy the 100 steps down and up again that is required to do it from shore and all thought the extra few quid worthwhile to do this site from the boat. This was another great dive with Seb anchoring deep inside a cut in the rock. We had a cracking swim out and to the right before descending down to the entrance for the cave. We surfaced inside and took time to look around with our torches. The light was again just fantastic from the entrance and could be seen above and below the waterline making it strange but spectacular. We dropped back down to the exit and across the mouth of the inlet before a leisurely swim back. There was plenty to see in the inlet and being shallow the light was great for photos and just mooching around spotting critters.
Two more shore based dives were planned for day 4. It’s astounding that the old Transit we were in could handle some of the track to the sites loaded with us and all the gear and tanks needed for the 2 dives that day. The first dive was on a pinnacle and was around a 32 meter bottom then swimming around whilst getting shallower, finishing with a long time exploring the area at 6-8 meters for those of us with plenty of gas left.
Day 5 had been planned that we would take the van on the ferry over to Malta and dive the Rosie and another wreck over there. Unfortunately we didn’t make it past the harbour as the old transit had had enough and refused to start. This of course ruined what was our last days plans and we spent some time in the harbour area whilst Mark tried to make other arrangements. He eventually secured us a fast boat that would come and meet us at the harbour and take us over to another of the Comino sites. It was another hard work dive as simply getting into the fast boat with full kit on was a bit of a mare. Arriving at the site there was a good current running as well so it was straight off and straight down to the bottom. This dive consisted of a lot of swim throughs that were pretty technical. Certainly the more ‘well fed’ amongst us were worried by some of the holes we were led into. At the end of the dive we swam up current along the reef and then drifted back to the boat which was pretty cool.
Our final dive of the trip now had to be changed from planned as well. There are 3 wrecks just off Gozo, all can be done from shore and in varying depths of water. The now fixed van had it’s work cut out for it again attempting some tracks that your average Landrover will never see. A tricky shore entry requiring a jump and turn to clear the rocks but without going to deep to hit the submerged ones was fun. We swam out only just below the surface until Mark gave us the nod and we all dropped into the into the blue. You could the see the stern deck of the wreck approaching and it was a cool feeling to hit the brakes and stop perfectly just above it at 40 meters. 1/2 of us followed Mark through the right side of the wreck whilst the rest went left to swim from stern to bow. As the wreck lies slightly on one side, those on the left hit 42 meters. This suited some folks as a friendly bit of piss taking had been going on all week with Bob ensuring Colin always had an extra meter over Rick and John. Dive guide Mark had decided it was time for Rick and John to have the upper hand and sent them left with Keith and Kevin so as to just pip Colin on the last dive. We exited and swam back across the superstructure to the stern before beginning the ascent. We again had loads of time to play around in shallow water in the brilliant light and mooch around the reef before exiting.
On Friday night, everyone who had been diving at Scuba Kings that week along with all the staff went for a meal and a few drinks. The food was excellent and thanks to John and Mark, was one of the funniest nights I’ve had in a very long time. The A team stayed out to the early hours and the story goes that even Keith was drinking some odd brews this night.
We weren’t diving Saturday as we were flying home Sunday so the day was a lazy and frankly a bit boring one. In the evening the A team again left the others and went into Victoria to do the tourist bit and to take a look at the festival of St George with they make into a very big deal in Gozo (England should take note here).
I think we were all pretty subdued travelling back on the Sunday and there was hardly a word said in the minibus on the way back from the airport. Yes we were all tired but more than that, it was the end of what had a been a fantastic week of diving with a really good bunch of guys.
Pictures of this trip are available on our gallery page..